October 5th 1930 saw the tragic halt to the British
airship enterprise. The R101 was the largest airship in the world. 777
feet long with a girth of 132 feet and an overall height of 140 feet,
the dirigible had taken many years to build and perfect. It had left
Cardington on the previous evening on a final trial flight to Egypt
and India. Its position was reported near Beauvais, France, at 1.50
a.m. but about ten minutes later the great dirigible collided with a
hill and burst into flames. Of the 54 people aboard, 46 were lost, including
the director of civil aviation, Air Vice-Marshal Sir W. Sefton-Branker,
the Secretary of State for Air, Brigadier-General Lord Thomson and many
other high officials of the Air Ministry.
Both in hindsight and at the time, it was obvious that Britain had lost
the ‘ flower’ of her resources, both personal and material,
in the airship branch of aviation. The ILN issue of October 11th 1930,
“R101” Disaster Special Number’,
(Appendix List no. 95)
details the scene of the crash, the holocaust of air experts, the R101.
before and after the disaster, the survivors and the homecoming of the
dead with scenes at Boulogne, Dover and Victoria.
The cover, in black, is a dramatic photograph of the wreckage of the
R101 after the tragedy with the tail flag still flying.
This is issue number 4773, vol. 177, pages 603-646, measuring 38 x 27
cm. and priced at one shilling. Under the title
‘The “R101” Disaster Memorial and Funeral
the following week’ s issue of October 18th (Appendix
List No. 96) illustrates the four most poignant events connected
with the aftermath of the disaster. Firstly, there was the lying in
state and Requiem Mass celebrated in Westminster Hall; secondly, the
memorial service held in St. Paul’s; thirdly, the funeral procession
through London passing the Air Ministry and India House - the headquarters
of the dead and the building symbolic of their unattained goal; and
finally the burial of the dead at Cardington, Bedfordshire, where the
great ship had been built and housed and where many of the men who flew
in her had lived.
This issue has the normal advertising wrapper with the special nature
of the issue indicated below the title frame. It is issue number 4774,
vol. 177, pages 647-702, measuring 38 x 27 .cm and priced at one shilling.
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